South Central States

South Central States – Directory

Ed Schmidt Jr.

Convention center expansions and downtown redevelopment programs dominate the new happenings in the south central states of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. While cities such as St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., are adept at handling large groups, smaller cities such as Tulsa; Oklahoma City; and Wichita, Kan. , as well as smaller towns like Hot Springs, Ark., and Branson, Mo., have developed great reputations for hosting association meetings.

Aggressive growth in this region is making it increasingly attractive to groups large and small. Among the highlights: St. Louis has five new downtown hotels under development; Little Rock recently expanded its convention center and opened a new multipurpose arena; and Oklahoma City is in the throes of one of the nation’s most ambitious downtown enhancement projects. And for groups interested in getting out of the city, Arkansas Parks and Tourism offers meeting space for rent in four of its parks.


Eureka Springs


Eureka Springs CVB

(501) 253-8737;

Fax: (501) 253-5037

Total Hotel Tax: 10.875%

Fort Smith


Fort Smith CVB

(501) 783-8888; (800) 637-1477

Fax: (501) 784-2421

Total Hotel Tax: 11.125%

Hot Springs


* The 490-room Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa added new furnishings and wallpaper to guest rooms and expanded its spa.


Hot Springs CVB & Convention Center

(501) 321-2835;

Fax: (501) 321-2136

Last year’s expansion and renovation of the Hot Springs Convention Center brings its total square footage to 240,000, including 106,000 square feet of meeting space and a 75,000-squarefoot meeting hall.

Total Hotel Tax: 12.125%

Little Rock

In addition to the expansion of the Statehouse Convention Center, development in Little Rock includes the new 18,000-seat sports and entertainment-oriented Alltel Arena and the River Market District, where the Museum of Discovery, a new library, shops, and restaurants are the draw.


* After a $10 million refurbishment, the 452-room Arkansas Excelsior will soon become the Peabody Little Rock.


Arkansas Parks & Tourism

(501) 682-1081; (800) 872-1259

Fax: (501) 682-2523

Little Rock CVB, Statehouse Convention Center, and Statehouse Conference Center

(501) 376-4781; Fax: (501) 374-2255

The convention center has 179,000 square feet of space, with 83,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 21,000-square-foot ballroom, and 37 breakout rooms. The conference center offers an additional 11,000 square feet of meeting space in three fixed-seat theaters, five meeting rooms, and a 1,100-square-foot activity center.

Total Hotel Tax: 10.125%


Home to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is a picturesque community in the Ozarks.


Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce

(501) 521-1710; (800) 466-7626

Fax: (501) 521-1791

University of Arkansas Center for Continuing Education

(501) 575-3604

This 51,000-square-foot center has 7,300 square feet of exhibit space, two auditoriums, and 13 meeting rooms.

Total Hotel Tax: 10.625%

Pine Bluff


Pine Bluff CVB & Convention Center

(870) 536-7600; (800) 536-7660

Fax: (870) 535-4867

The convention center offers 90,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space with an 8,500-seat arena, a 1,900-seat auditorium, and a 2,000-seat banquet hall.

Total Hotel Tax: 10.62%




Wichita CVB

(316) 265-2800; (800) 288-9424

Fax: (316) 265-0162

The Kansas Coliseum

(316) 755-1234

This property offers 51,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 12,200-square-foot arena.

Century II Convention Center

(316) 264-9121

The facility has 721,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.

Total Hotel Tax: 11.9%


Branson Lakes


Missouri Division of Tourism

(573) 751-4135; (800) 877-1234

Fax: (573) 751-5160

Branson/Lakes Area CVB

(417) 334-4084

Fax: (417) 334-4139

Total Hotel Tax: 11.225% within Branson city limits, 7.225% outside city limits

Kansas City


* At Crown Center, a mixed-use development at the southern edge of down-town, the 731-room Hyatt Regency and 725-room Westin have completed renovations; the 54,000-square-foot Destination Crown Center Exhibition Hall debuted in January.

* The 366-room Ritz-Carlton, Kansas City, has changed its name to The Fairmont, Kansas City, and will implement a $10 million improvement program.

* The nine-story, 203-room Hampton Inn and Suites opened in December with 1,900 square feet of meeting space.


Kansas City CVB

(816) 221-5242

(800) 767-7700

Fax: (816) 691-3880

Kansas City Convention Center

(816) 221-5242

The center features 400,000 square feet of exhibit space, 58 meeting rooms, a 2,400-seat fine arts theater, and a 10,700-seat arena. Also at this number reach the American Royal Center, with 627,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space, and two arenas, one seating 5,000, the other 19,500.

Total Hotel Tax: 12.6%

Lake of the Ozarks


Lake of the Ozarks CVB

(573) 348-1599

(800) Fun-Lake

Fax: (573) 348-4292

Total Hotel Tax: Ranging from 7.225% to 9.225%


Missouri’s third-largest city is nestled atop the Ozark Mountains plateau and is home to Southwest Missouri State University.


Springfield CVB

(417) 881-5300;

Fax: (417) 881-2231

Total Hotel Tax: 10.475%

St. Louis


* The historic 368-room Drury Plaza Hotel, which is located near the Gateway Arch, is undergoing an extensive $20 million renovation. Completion of the project is scheduled for this month.

* Marriott Hotels broke ground in February on a 1,081-room convention headquarters hotel adjacent to the America’s Center convention complex. Set for completion in 2002, the construction will renovate two historic hotels, the Gateway and Lennox, to create a 916-room Renaissance Hotel and 163-suite Renaissance Suite Hotel.

* The 453-room Radisson Riverfront Hotel has completed renovation of 150 rooms and is expected to conclude the total room renovation early next year.

* The 220-room Westin St. Louis near Busch Stadium is slated to open in September.


St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

(314) 421-1023

Fax: (314) 621-3470

America’s Center

(314) 342-5036

Total Hotel Tax: 12.975% to 14.767%


Oklahoma City


* The 161-room Hilton Gardens Inn opened in December along the Meridian Avenue hotel district.

* The 311-room Renaissance Oklahoma City, connected to the Myriad Convention Center by skywalk, opened in January with 5,400 square feet of meeting space and seven meeting rooms.


Oklahoma City CVB

(405) 297-8909

(800) 225-5652

Fax: (405) 297-8888

Myriad Convention Center

(405) 297-3300

This one-million-square-foot facility features a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 20,000-seat arena, and a 25,000-square-foot ballroom.

Total Hotel Tax: 9.375%


Beginning in October, the first phase of a $22 million expansion of Tulsa’s Expo Square will include the 548,798-square-foot Tulsa Exposition Center.


Tulsa CVB

(918) 585-1201

(800) 558-3311

Fax: (918) 592-6244

Tulsa Convention Center

(918) 596-7165

The center features 102,600 square feet of column-free exhibition space, a 8,992-seat arena, a 20,000-square-foot conference hall, and 25 meeting rooms.

Mabee Center

(918) 495-6402

On the campus of Oral Roberts University, this center has an 11,575-seat arena and banquet accommodations for 250.

Total Hotel Tax: 12.92%


Meeting Planners Say

For 30 years the American Taekwondo Association has hosted an international competition that attracts more than 4,000 competitors ranging in age from 2 to 80. Between family members and supporters, he tournament draws more than 15,000 visitors every June to the Statehouse Convention Center, where the competitions are held. “Little Rock’s convention center is an exceptional facility for a city its size,” says Jay Kohl, chairman of tournaments for the ATA. “The meeting and tourism organizations in the city are very supportive and they’ve been very helpful in planning for our large group.”

The National Association of State and County Office Employees staged its annual conference in Oklahoma City. The four day meeting in August attracted 1,200 U.S. Department of Agriculture county office employees. Conference chairperson Mike Lee was impressed with the city’s downtown redevelopment efforts. “With the Bricktown area there are lots of restaurants and shops, and downtown is very walkable, so our attendees didn’t have to worry about taxis and rental cars,” says Lee. “Almost all of our conferences are staged in downtown areas and Oklahoma City is one of the best.”

Peggy Kates, a tournament coordinator for the Amateur Athletic Union who has staged three national tournaments in Oklahoma City, comments: “Oklahoma City is a hidden gem because it has lots of attractions and many dining and shopping options that are centrally located within easy walking distance of hotels.”

What the south central states lack in palm trees and sugar white sands, they make up with rolling terrain, naturally scenic golf courses, and economical greens fees.

In Arkansas, for example, windswept courses on flat, open areas can be found in the south; mountain courses are part of the landscape of the Ozarks and Quachitas; and layouts near Little Rock wind through tall pine forests. And the eastern part of Kansas, contrary to the state’s flat, dry image, features hills, woodlands, and more than 200 courses.

Missouri has two meeting-oriented golf resorts that capitalize on the natural beauty of Lake Ozark. The 311-room Lodge of the Four Seasons, in the middle of the state, has three 18-hole courses, including a Jack Nicklaus signature design. Down the shore in Osage Beach, the 930-room Marriott’s Tan-Tar-A Resort has two courses with gentle hills and a lake backdrop. In Kansas City, the most heralded courses are Dub’s Dread, Painted Hills, Heritage Park, and St. Andrews.

Oklahoma’s first-rate state park system offers meeting facilities for small groups and economically priced golf at five of its 56 parks. The resorts with golf include Quartz Mountain Resort in Altus, Lake Texoma near Kingston, Roman Nose near Watonga, Lake Murray Resort and State Park near the Arbuckle Wilderness area, and Western Hills Guest Ranch near Wagoner.

This isn’t your average meeting destination.

Never ordinary, never second rate. Missouri is the difference between a so-so meeting experience and an earth-shattering success. For years, we have been pleasantly surprising people with our endless amenities. From location, to affordability, to accommodations, to extracurricular activities, it’s hard to beat Missouri.

Located in the heartland of the country, traveling to Missouri is a snap. It’s a quick flight from virtually anywhere in the United States. And Kansas City and St. Louis boast international airports offering literally hundreds of flights daily. Plus, many major interstates weave their way through Missouri, making road connections quick and direct. Your group will get here fast, and when they do, they won’t be far from the hotel.

From big city flair, to small town comfort, Missouri has the perfect fit for your meeting. Our hotel accommodations are second to none, with thousands upon thousands of rooms to choose from. And we feature some of the finest convention centers around, including America’s Center in St. Louis and the Kansas City Convention Center. No matter what size meeting you’re planning, Missouri has the space to accommodate your needs.

We also have the people to make your meeting a success. While our Midwestern work ethic keeps everything clicking on all cylinders, our famous hospitality makes everyone feel right at home. And while our cheerful attitude will make your group feel welcome, Missouri’s affordability will make you feel even better.

It’s hard to find a better bang for your meeting dollar. Nearly everything is more affordable in Missouri, from rooms to room service. That way, you can stretch your budget further, and have better perks for your attendees. There’s nothing wrong with saving a little money, especially when you get so much more for it in Missouri.

Of course, there’s more to a great meeting than the meeting itself. You’ve got to have a place for your attendees to kick up their heels. And Missouri offers a wide array of entertainment options: jazz, blues, historic entertainment districts, theatre, museums, historic sites, pro sports, golf, train and boat excursions and riverboat gaming. Plus, in Branson, you’ll find music superstars and more theater seats than Broadway. And then there’s the dining options and shopping. From steaks and barbecue in Kansas City, to Italian and a world of tastes in St. Louis, to cashew chicken in Springfield, you can please your palate with all of Missouri’s regional specialties. And after your meal, you can check out. Missouri’s famous shopping areas at the Country Club Plaza it Kansas City, Saint Louis Galleria, Battlefield Mall in Springfield, or at one of our many factory outlet malls.

No matter what your needs may be, Missouri has the resources to make your meeting experience an exceptional one. Take a look at what Kansas City, St. Louis, Branson, Springfield and Columbia have to offer. They’re just a few of the places where meetings are anything but average.

Go to Kansas City for great barbecue, jazz and first class meeting facilities.

The Kansas City Convention Center features 400,000 square feet of contiguous, column-free exhibit space with up to 58 meeting rooms. There are over 3,500 hotel rooms within 10 blocks of the Center, including a connected 1,000-room hotel. Plus, the recently added Crown Center Exhibit Hall is linked to two major hotels and offers 54,000 feet of meeting space. You’ll have no problem finding space in Kansas City.

Getting here is easy because Kansas City International Airport, ranked among the most user-friendly in the nation, has fares that are among the lowest in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While you’re in town, visit Kansas City’s newest jewel, Science City at Union Station. Housed in the nation’s second largest train station, Science City combines the best of museums, science centers, theme parks and theaters.

Don’t forget to experience the unique shopping, dining and entertainment of Hallmark’s famous Crown Center, historic Westport and the beautiful Country Club Plaza. And be sure to check out the world-famous Kansas City barbecue and jazz.

In Kansas City, good times and meeting success go hand in hand.

Explore St. Louis. There’s more than meets the Arch.

Exciting things are happening beneath the Arch. Downtown St. Louis is experiencing an unprecedented hotel building boom. And new nightclubs, lively pubs and delectable world’s fare restaurants are popping up all over. They keep the action going into the wee hours in revitalized downtown and fascinating neighborhood historic districts.

In St. Louis, mote is better. The America’s Center convention complex offers more options under one roof than any meeting venue in the Midwest. It features 502,000 square feet of exhibit space, 83 meeting rooms, a 1,400-seat lecture hail, a luxurious 28,000 square foot ballroom, a private executive conference center, and a 70,000-seat domed stadium.

Discover how easy it is to be in St. Louis. It’s less than a day’s drive from most major population centers. 1,400 flights arrive and depart daily. And a swift and sleek light tail system whisks airport arrivals into downtown and to many of St. Louis’ cultural attractions.

Hear the St. Louis Blues but be too happy to feel them. Explore St. Louis and discover the Midwest’s best destination to meet for fun.

There’s more to Branson than entertainment.

While Branson may be famous for its stars and shows, its meeting facilities are equally impressive. Your attendees can meet in the live entertainment capital of the world. And with the addition of the palatial Chateau on the Lake, Branson can now host conventions of up to 4,000.

Already a leader in the group travel industry, Branson is building its reputation as a leading meeting and convention site. Its facilities can handle all of your meeting needs, including accommodations, meeting space, transportation and entertainment.

Let Branson’s small town friendliness make an impact on your attendees. Its travel professionals go the extra mile to make your meeting an overwhelming success. And its atmosphere makes for a fun and memorable experience.

Of course, after the meeting is over, few cities boast the entertainment options of Branson. With over 75 shows daily, along with great restaurants, shopping and golf, Branson is a place your attendees will want to visit again and again.

Springfied. Host of Ozarks adventures.

Missouri’s third largest and fastest growing city, Springfield offers nearly 400,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibit space with the newly constructed E-Plex and the Expo Center coming in 2002.

Accommodations never run short with over 5,600 rooms. And spending the night won’t cost you a night’s sleep. Business Travel News rates Springfield the second most affordable our of 100 cities. You won’t have to worry about dining in Springfield, because we offer many unique restaurants with local flair. And if you’re hungry for adventure, you can explore the headquarters of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, the Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium (coming in 2001) and Branson, just 30 minutes south.

For excellent meeting facilities, down-home hospitality, convenience and affordability, Springfield is your destination.

Columbia. A small town with a big city feel.

Whether you’re planning a small meeting or a convention for 7,000 people, Columbia is the perfect setting. You’ll get all the benefits of a quaint college town, along with amenities you’d expect from a much larger city.

Columbia features a large variety of accommodations, as well as a multitude of dining options. You’ll find Columbia has the right combination of big-city culture and small-town hospitality that will make you want to return again and again.

Venue Menu

* Discoveryland (Tulsa)–From early June through mid-August, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma is performed by 50 professional actors, singers, and dancers in a 2,000-seat amphitheater. (918) 245-6552

* 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District (Kansas City, Mo.)–With the American Jazz Museum, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the renovated Gem Theater. (816) 221-1920

* Gateway Arch (St. Louis)–America’s tallest monument, the Arch towers 630 feet above the ground and offers a 30-mile panoramic view. (314) 982-1410

* Kansas City Zoo (Kansas City, Mo.)–The 200-acre complex with more than 400 animals recently completed a $71 million expansion that added an MAX theater and indoor restaurant. (816) 871-5701

* National Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center (Oklahoma City)–World’s largest exhibition of Western lore. (405) 478-2250

* Old State House Museum (Little Rock)–Tours and spouse programs are available at the oldest standing capitol building west of the Mississippi River. (501) 329-6895

* Science City at Union Station (Kansas City, Mo.)-The $234 million transformation of the second-largest train station in North America was completed in November. The facility combines science exploration with a theme-park setting. (816) 460-2222

* Silver Dollar City (Branson)–A theme park set in a 19th-century village. (800) 641-4202

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